How to Launch Your First Online Course!

Are you ready to create a course but don’t know where to start? Follow this simple process and you will get your course done in no time flat! 

Step 1: Define your Marketing Position 

Ever heard the story that if you have a day to cut down a tree you should spend 7 hours sharpening your ax and one hour cutting down the tree? That is exactly what this step is!

Before getting started creating 300+ power point slides and 20 fillable PDFs, make sure you identify WHO your course is for and what result (transformation) they are going to get or achieve after taking your course. Here are some questions you should be able to answer:

  • Who is our target audience?
  • Who is not our audience?
  • What are their hopes, desires, dreams?
  • What are their fears, frustrations, & pain points?
  • What results do they want? What transformation will your course give them?
  • Who are your competitors? 
  • What have they tried and why hasn’t it worked?
  • How can you solve the problem better?

Answer these questions in detail and everything else you do will be easier.

Step 2: Map Out Your Modules 

The biggest mistake in course creation is trying to teach too much.  You are an expert in your area and you have a burning desire to help people so naturally you want to give them all of the information they need to be successful. Unfortunately this is a losing proposition. If you give away too much information and create a 25 hour course, most people will never finish watching all of the videos, and even less will take action.

You can solve this by giving away just enough information to keep it high level, and use weekly live coaching calls to fill in the gaps. (Which can also be recorded, transcribed, and uploaded as bonus content to your members area!) 

A good structure I have found, is this: 

  • A course has 6 modules of about one hour each. 
  • Each module has 6 lessons of about 10 minutes each.

That means that a course will have about 6 hours total of content and it will be laid out in an easy to consume format! 

What I have found that is also very helpful, is to write out a bullet point for each lesson in a “sales language” format so that I can use those bullet points on the sales page. 

Step 3: Write Your Sales Page 

It may seem counter-intuitive, but the next step is not to record your course, but to write your sales page. This will help you to further narrow down what you are going to be teaching and make sure that the course you have in mind is actually an appealing offer. 

After writing your sales page you can add it to your site, let people know that it is currently closed but they can join the wait list, and start capturing leads. This is a great way to also gauge interest for a course before you go to all the work of building it!

Step 4: Record Your First Module or Pre-Training Material 

You don’t make money in draft mode! Get your first module done or pre-training material ready and then get ready to sell! If you are doing this for the first time and will be doing live coaching calls as you move through your course, you are going to be able to customize your training for your students. Each week let them know what you are going to be teaching the next week and ask them what their biggest questions are related to that topic. Guess what! You now have your lessons mapped out for you! Take their questions and incorporate them into your lessons and your content will create itself. 

Step 5: Time to Sell

Don’t let that course sit on your virtual shelf too long. Once you have done steps 1-4, get busy selling! 

What questions do you have about course creation? Let me know in the comments below!

How LinkedIn Posts Can Change Your Business

Is LinkedIn part of your social media marketing strategy? It should be.

“But LinkedIn is for posting resumes and looking for jobs,” you may say. Once upon a time that was the case, but that time has passed. The executives at LinkedIn are broadening their horizons, and that’s good news for you.

blogging for business

For a few months now, LinkedIn has been rolling out a new feature on its site to all of its users: the ability to post content. It started with people who qualified as “Influencers” but has recently been expanding, and will continue to expand, to include all users.

So what?

How does that affect you?

It means you have another opportunity to showcase your expertise in your industry by posting educational information that can point traffic to your website. (You may remember from my previous post that traffic is more important than links. If somebody visits your website based on a post you wrote on LinkedIn, you’ve got a potential lead!)

If you’re a consultant, you can flex your business savvy. If you’re an author, you can showcase your talent. If you’re a business owner, you can share your knowledge of the industry. In each case, you have the opportunity to present yourself as an expert and potentially reach new connections on a new platform.

How does that affect your social media marketing?

The ability to post on LinkedIn affects a few aspects of your social media marketing. First of all, it changes the utility of LinkedIn from a primarily networking and recruiting platform to a marketing platform. It will remain a place online to learn more about applicants, but in order to make the most of it, you’ll need to visit the site more often and write unique posts with marketing in mind.

Secondly, it makes all of your employees marketers. If they have a profile that shows they work for your company, then their posts can be marketing tools to point traffic to your company website. Employees have long been a reflection of the companies they work for, now even more so.

Thirdly, it means there is another site that needs unique content for marketing. If you’re keeping tally at home, here are all the social media sites that need to have content created for them:

  • Company blog
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • YouTube
  • Google+
  • Instagram
  • Pinterest
  • Podcast
  • LinkedIn

Before you throw your hands up in the air in frustration, keep this in mind. Each of these sites has a unique audience with different leads who could turn into customers. That should help to keep you motivated and nudge you to write your first LinkedIn post.

How does posting on LinkedIn benefit your business? 

write blog postWe’ve already talked about how LinkedIn has a new audience for you to wow with industry insights and about how it can point traffic to your business website. Those are fantastic benefits in and of themselves. But there’s more, too.

In the past, when someone viewed your profile on LinkedIn, they would see your background experience first. Now, your posts appear at the top of the profile. That means your industry insights are seen before your resume is. It’s more relatable and valuable in the long run. Just because somebody holds a certain title does not mean they are good at what they do. By providing first-hand industry knowledge, your posts give you the opportunity to show people how your business and expertise can help them.

For example, if you’re a consultant who specializes in employee relations, a resume that shows your years in human resources at a hospital will be less helpful for your business than a post about successfully dealing with conflict in the workplace.

Unlike other social media sites, LinkedIn automatically shows you the publishing metrics for your posts. In other words, the site tells you how many people looked at your post. Knowing what people want to read is incredibly helpful as you plan what to write in the future.

7 Tips for posting on LinkedIn 

tips

  1. Use an image at the beginning of the post. An image captures attention at a glance and makes the reader want to know more… or least read to title to see if they want to know more.
  2. Beware of duplicate content. If you’re already thinking to yourself, “I’ll just post stuff I’ve written on my blog to my LinkedIn profile” you’ll need to come up with a new plan. Duplicate content like that actually hurts your website when it comes to search engine rankings. Unique content is your best bet.
  3. LinkedIn has explicitly stated that no sales oriented content will be allowed. Just like search engines want to provide the best results, LinkedIn wants to provide the best reader experience. That, and they want to make the most of paid advertising opportunities.
  4. Include calls to action. You can’t post sales content, but you can tell readers to check out your company website where they’ll learn all about your products and services. The call to action can also be to encourage readers to read a specific blog post on your company site. Remember: the goal is qualified traffic that will become leads.
  5. Business hours are the best time to publish. Unlike other social media sites that tend to focus more on entertainment, LinkedIn’s focus is business. As a result, your posts are more likely to be read if they’re posted during business hours.
  6. Keep your audience in mind while you write. LinkedIn has a different audience than Twitter or YouTube. Focus on industry insights rather than pop culture gossip.
  7. Keep your profile up to date. Even though your posts are at the top of the profile, inquiring minds will want to know more about the author of the post. Make sure your information is current.

Don’t think of LinkedIn as another item on your to-do list; think of it as another opportunity to find leads. If you need some help, let us know.

How To Use One Idea On Multiple Sites Without Duplicate Content: Social Media Mash-Ups

Effective marketing requires more and more content as different platforms become available. It can exhaust your creativity and monopolize your time. As a small business owner, you can’t afford the overhead required to hire a full time team of marketers to cover all the bases. What can you do?

“Stop trying to reinvent the wheel.”

social media mashup-ups

You’ve heard the old saying, but what does that look like for you and your content creation? You know that duplicate content hurts your website in the eyes of the search engines, so you’ve been struggling to create unique content for all of your social media platforms. As a result, you find yourself stretched thin and having to choose between taking care of your current customers and finding new leads via social media.

Sound familiar?

You need to develop some social media marketing mash-ups!

What’s a Mash-up?

Mash-ups are when a musician blends two or more different songs together to create something new. Perhaps you’ve heard a DJ do a mash-up at a wedding or seen it on a movie like Pitch Perfect. The musicians are using what’s already been created to make something else.

Let me explain. We’ll begin with something fairly simple: a blog post.

Starting With a Blog Post

blog-post

You’ve written a great blog post and put it on the company website. Is that all you can do with it? The answer is no. You can share that post on Facebook, Twitter, Reddit and Google+ to reach a wider audience. Did you include an image with the post? (Pro tip: that’s definitely a best practice for blogging.) Pin it to a relevant board on your Pinterest account.

Let’s take it a step further. Can you think of a way to use that same content in a video? If you had to give a presentation with that content, what would it look like? Could you do the same presentation in front of a camera and post it to your YouTube channel? The MOZ Blog has perfected this idea with their Whiteboard Friday posts.

 Recapping. You wrote one high quality blog post, shared it on five social media sites and used it as the basis for a new video. You’re starting to get the hang of mash-ups.

Starting With a Podcast

podcastLet’s try another one. This time we’ll start with a podcast. Maybe you prefer talking to writing, so podcasts are less time-consuming for you. Great. Let’s work with that. After you record the podcast and upload it, what else can you do with it to get it to a broader audience?

You can link to it on Facebook and Twitter with a catchy introduction that fits with your audience there. You could have the content of the podcast transcribed and edited so you can post it on your LinkedIn profile. If the content lends itself to illustration, it could be transformed into an Infographic and posted on Instagram or Pinterest. What if, while you recorded the podcast, somebody on your team shot a video of you talking? Now you’ve got a YouTube video, too.

Recapping. You started with the content for a podcast, linked to it on two social media sites, created an Infographic for a third site, posted the transcript on LinkedIn and uploaded a video to YouTube.

Are you beginning to see how this kind of thinking can help you to maximize one great idea by using it on multiple platforms?

One more example before we move on to some pro tips.

Starting With a Webinar

webinar

This time we’re going to start with the content you’ve created for a webinar. You’ve created the content for the webinar as a free resource for those who filled out an opt-in form on your website. (Good thinking!)

In preparation for the webinar, you put the content into a PowerPoint presentation. You’ve also decided to use your Google+ account and hold the webinar as a Google hangout to keep the cost down and make it as easy as possible for your attendees. By recording the hangout, you are automatically producing a video you can post on YouTube later.

As a bonus, you can use any good questions your attendees ask as the basis for future content creation. After the webinar, you decide to upload the PowerPoint presentation to SlideShare in hopes of directing more traffic to your site.

Recapping. You prepared for one webinar, added to your email list with opt-ins, added connections on Google+, made a video for YouTube, uploaded to SlideShare and came away with ideas for more content. All in all a successful endeavor, wouldn’t you say?

I think you’ve got the hang of mash-ups now. Here are some things to keep in mind as you go.

Pro Tips for Social Media Mash-ups 

  • Don’t just post links on Facebook and Twitter. If you really want to peak interest, use a great quote from the content before you link to it.
  • Duplicate content hurts your website in the search engine rankings. Refrain from posting the same content on your blog that you post on LinkedIn.
  • Keep your audience in mind. You may need to tweak some of your content in order to meet your audience of different platforms. The goal is to reach different audiences, but people who read posts on LinkedIn may be different than people who follow you on Pinterest. Mash-up accordingly.
  • If you don’t have a target audience presence on a certain social media site, focus on other sites instead. Let your buyer persona work for you.
  • Don’t try to do it all yourself. Graphic designers, photographers, video editors and writers on your team can adapt your content for various platforms.

I saved the best pro tip for last…

You can always hire a virtual team of professionals to create and manage the content for you. We’d be glad to help. Schedule a free consultation today.

Generate Qualified Leads From Your Website

What would you do if you had a sales rep that month after month took a salary from your company yet week after week after week… they did not generate one single sale?  What if this had been going on for years?  What if not only were they not generating any sales, they were not even generating any leads?  What would you do?

Of course you would fire them!  Without a doubt!

The primary purpose of a sales rep is to generate sales and at the very least to generate some leads!

Yet every month, we pay hosting fees, website maintenance fees, software fees, and much more, to maintain a website whose sole job is to generate sales… yet we do nothing when the website fails to perform.

Is it time to fire your website?  When was the last time your website generated a sale?  A lead?get-more-leads

Sales is all about numbers.  If we know that our closing rate or conversion rate is 5% then we can know that we need a specific number of leads to generate a target revenue.

For example, if you have a product that sells for $100 and you want to generate a monthly revenue of $10,000 then you know that you need to sell 100 units to achieve your revenue goal.  If you know that you can close 5% of the leads, then you know that you will need 2000 qualified leads to be able to close 100 new customers.  This math helps you to determine where you need to focus your efforts to reach your target sales goals.

If you know you need a minimum of 2000 qualified leads per month and your website is only generating 100, that that is the first place to focus your efforts.

So how can you improve your website to capture more leads?

When I work with my coaching clients, one of the first things we do in our coaching calls is to take a look at the website and do a series of 5 minute checks on the basics.  Here are some of the questions I usually ask:

 

Site Review

  1. Is the site visually pleasing?
  2. Is there a clear call to action?
  3. Is there a web form to capture email addresses?
  4. Are there credibility symbols above the fold?
  5. Are there testimonials?
  6. Does the site guide the user to the next step?
  7. Can you easily answer this question: What action do you want them to take?
  8. Does the site allow people to self select different areas of the site based on different market segments?
  9. Is the site converting visitors to leads and leads to sales? Is the conversion rate at least 5%?
  10. If I send more traffic to this page will I get more sales?

Review Character Shows Assess Reviewing Evaluate And Reviews

SEO Site Review

If your site passes the initial Site Review, the next step is to review your site for search engine optimization factors. If you want your site to rank high in the search engines, you will need to have an SEO friendly site.

  1. Does the site have good SEO friendly title tags?
  2. Does the site have well written description tags? (Benefits plus call to action)
  3. Is the url structure of the site static and seo friendly?
  4. Are all pages on the site easy to find and easy to navigate to?
  5. Is there a blog?
  6. Is it linked to Google+?
  7. Are there social media share buttons on the site and the blog?
  8. Is there duplicate content on the site? (Copyscape)
  9. Has the site been penalized for bad links? (Google Analytics / Penguin Analysis)
  10. Is the site using keywords correctly through the site?shutterstock_77500738

 

Blogging Review

The next step is to review your blog!  Ask yourself these questions:

  1. When was the last time the blog was updated?
  2. Are the blog posts written for the readers or are they articles posing as blog posts.
  3. Are people commenting on the blog posts.
  4. Is the blog the central hub for all content creation?
  5. Are there share buttons on each blog post?
  6. Is the time on site greater than 2 minutes?
  7. Is the bounce rate lower than 55%?
  8. Is the click through rate to other pages at least 2?
  9. Has the site been verified in Google+?blog

 

Social Media Review

Social Media is an integral part of an online marketing strategy.  To be able to promote the blog posts that are being written, you must establish an online presence with social media.  In the past, you could get top ranking in the search engines with just “link building”.  This is no longer the case.  Here are some questions to ask yourself about your social media presence:

  1. Does you have a Facebook Fan page, Twitter page, Google+ Page, and LinkedIn Page for their company?
  2. Are your social media accounts well designed with graphics?
  3. When was the last time you updated each of your social media accounts?
  4. What is your Klout score or Kred score?
  5. Are you engaging your market online or are you just talking to them?social media 3

 

Local SEO Review

Do you have a brick and mortar business? Do you have a physical location customers can make purchases at?

  1. Are you on Google Local?
  2. Are you on Yelp?
  3. Do you have a Google Map on your website Contact Us page?
  4. Are you optimizing for Google Local terms? (Geo-modified keywords)
  5. Do you have a system for getting reviews?
  6. Are your public citations SEO optimized and optimized for conversion?brickandmortarbrickandmortarbrickandmortar

 

We have actually created a guide called the 7 Step Gap Guide where not only do I map out the above questions, but also explain how you can work with my company, Start Ranking Now, Inc. to close the gaps!

Subscribe to our Newsletter and Download the 7 Step Gap Guide Now!

 

 

6 Methods to Become a Successful Affiliate Blogger

By following the tips and advice in this article, you’ll be ahead of the game and on your way to becoming a successful affiliate.  Remember to provide quality content and information and once you do that you can concentrate on making product recommendations.  As your business grows, you’ll find other tips and strategies which work best for you and you can start experimenting a little more.

local-marketing-success

Here are the 6 steps:

    1. Make the affiliate programs that you select really relevant to your niche subject to keep the credibility of your site and entice your members into purchasing the products they need.  It goes without saying, but if you have a site about babies and parenting babies, it’s not a good idea to promote pet related products as these aren’t relevant to your target market.
    2. Set up your own domain or blog.  You can’t do this for every affiliate program, but if you find a product which has really helped you and offers a generous commission, you can set up a blog and speak about your experience using this product.  Make regular posts and comments about how the product is helping you and your experiences with it and link to the product throughout your blog.  You can also set up your own domain name to promote a product.  This looks much more professional than an affiliate link and will be easier to remember too.  It’s great for using when writing articles and content as well.
    3. Try to find affiliate programs that offer ‘lifetime cookies’ or ‘lifetime customers’.  This means that when you send a member to the affiliate site your affiliate link is tracked in their system and even if the member doesn’t purchase the product right away, you’ll still get paid if the person returns and buys from that affiliate program at a later date.
    4. Write honest product reviews.  Write informative and honest product reviews.  This is a great way to give your unbiased opinion on a product and to build trust with your subscribers.  And if a product is faulty in some way you can add that as a note, your subscribers will trust you more if they know your recommendations are honest and sincere.
    5. Find the correct placement for affiliate links.  As mentioned above, affiliate banners and graphics don’t usually work as well as providing informative content and weaving affiliate links where appropriate throughout that content.  For example, you can write a quality article about helping your baby recover from colic and in that article you can link out to resources which will help the parents remedy this problem.
    6. Redirect your affiliate links through your own domain.  There are many benefits to redirecting your affiliate links.  It’s easier to track and remember your links when you need them.  If a program changes their links it’s easy to go back and change your links.  You’ll also present a more professional image; many affiliate links are long and look like garbly goop; your visitors may be suspicious of these links.  Redirecting your affiliate links solves all these problems.

What’s The Deal with RSS?

rss feed

Another very important benefit to publishing a blog, is something called “Real Simple Syndication” or RSS for short.  RSS is a content delivery channel, distributing your content to your audience wherever they may be.  Blogs use RSS to automatically deliver your content to your readers without them having to visit your site everyday to check whether your blog had been updated recently.

To accomplish this, your audience needs to subscribe to your blog’s feed.  Using an RSS Feed Reader, they can now read your latest posts from the reader itself.  It works like a simple subscription form.  You place your feed icons in a prominent place on your blog where your readers simply click on it and get subscribed.

RSS Feed Readers are available as desktop downloads or as Web-based applications.  Many are free like Feedly.com and Newsblur.com.

Using RSS is a much better way of syndicating your content than e-mail because RSS goes beyond just e-zines.  And if you were wondering how managing your blog’s subscribers could be possible, there’s Feedburner.com to answer your question. Probably the best in the business, Feedburner.com provides the most detailed stats about your blog subscribers, giving you the edge to improve your blog’s performance as you see fit.

Blogging Tips for Starting a Business Blog

blog ideas

After all the “back-breaking” work of setting up your business blog, it now comes down to the most important reason of having a blog in the first place – getting your content out to the world.

For some, this is an easy process.  For many others however, publishing useful and unique content regularly can be severely daunting.  Distinguishing yourself from other business bloggers takes a bit of understanding of who your core readers are.  Put some time aside to research your audience and find out what they would like to read about. Here are some considerations to bear in mind when publishing your content:

  • Should I make my posts educational, newsworthy, informational, entertaining and debatable or, a combination of all those? 
  • How long should my posts be (this is where getting feedback from your readers comes in)? 
  • Should I consider a blog partnership (getting guest bloggers to write unique content for your blog)? 

The initial excitement of publishing a blog can quickly dissipate when your “content well” starts to dry up.  So where do you turn to for ideas and inspiration to get readers queuing up to read your work?  Well, let’s start with how you can categorize your content in a way that could potentially skyrocket your readership: 

  • The infamous Top 10 lists blog-post
  • How-To information 
  • Reviews 
  • Interview someone within your business niche 
  • Latest trends and newsworthy information 
  • Present relevant business case-studies 
  • Recommend other business blogs that might be of interest to your readers 

But all the above may be rendered useless if you can’t get to a source for inspiration.  So here are some of the best places to visit when you need to get those creative juices flowing:

  • News sites – CNN, Yahoo News, Google News are just some of many News websites available to spark an interesting idea for a blog post.  Dig into News stories and press releases to see what is significant for your blog.  Cast your opinion on it and you’ve just got yourself a new post.  But don’t stop there.

Look for News sites that are specific to your industry as well.  For example, if you’re blogging about finance, head on over to Bloomberg Financial News and get ideas from there.  About.com is another site that covers a gamut of topics that makes for such a great source for content ideas.

  • Online Groups / Social Networking sites / Forums – Message board forums, Facebook Groups and Yahoo Groups are a wealth of information.  Your potential readers and customers could be lurking within these groups, freely exchanging the kind of information a market research company would pay thousands of dollars for.

Don’t ignore forums that are relevant to your industry. Like social networking sites and online groups, forums attract the kind of audience that could be interested in the information you are offering.

  • Social Bookmarking Services– Like social networking sites, social bookmarking services are all the rage today.  These services allow users to rate and recommend topics that are popular with them.  They are a portal into the hottest and latest trends as deemed by public opinion.

Visit sites such as Technorati.com, Delicious, StumbleUpon.com, Reddit.com and Digg.com to get blogging ideas.  While there are a great number of other social bookmarking sites springing up onto the web quite regularly, those are the most referred to by professional bloggers for research.

  • High Traffic Sites – Another fantastic source of blogging ideas can be found at high traffic sites such as Alexa.com, Amazon.com, Ebay.com, Craigslist.org and Wikipedia.org.  A wealth of ideas can be mined just from sifting through these sites’ categories.
  • Article Directories – Article directories offer you the option of re-printing the articles of your choice on your blog.  This can come in handy if you’re having an off day but need something to whet the appetite of your readers.  Even if you don’t intend to publish any of those articles, use them as a source of ideas for writing your next post.

Some of the more popular directories are EzineArticles.com, GoArticles.com and ArticleCity.com.  These articles are free to re-print but, read the terms on these sites on how to go about re-printing them.

  • Some Other Sources – Another idea-generating method is to look out for what people are searching for and decide if you could blog about these search terms. Visit popular sites like Google Zeitgeist and MetaCrawler.com for this purpose. You can use keywords tools like WordTracker.com.

Try searching for ideas using blog search engines as well. Try Technorati.com for potential ideas.

How to Write Quickly – Get Your Thoughts and Ideas onto the Page and Published In Less Time

idea

How long does it take you to write a blog post or article? For many business owners, the answer is an hour or more. Yet an experienced writer can write three quality blog posts in the same amount of time. It’s not because they’re better writers. Rather, it’s because they have embraced writing systems and practices that support productivity.

As you read through the following ideas, know that not all of them will work for you. However, if you’re able to embrace just a few of them, you’ll cut your writing time down significantly.

 

#1 Work in Batches

blogJoe is a business owner and writes all his own content. On a productive day, Joe can write four or five blog posts in an hour. The trick that works for him is to focus on writing his content in batches.

For example, he might spend an hour writing reviews. Later, when he sits back down to his writing desk he might focus on writing a handful of tips articles.

There are many reasons why this system works. One of the primary reasons is that the batch approach doesn’t require Joe to shift focus. In his case, each article in a batch has the same basic format. He can approach them almost as if he’s writing from a template.

Batching content by format isn’t the only approach you can take. You can batch by topic or subject matter as well. For example, someone in a coaching niche might focus on writing motivation content for the first hour. When they return to their computer they might shift gears and focus on writing a few how to stay confident articles.

 

#2 Set a Time Limit and Goal

timerAnother common practice is to set a time limit for your writing session. Give yourself an hour to write and set a goal. For example, if you’re writing a report, then maybe you want to have three pages completed by the end of your hour.

Once the hour is up, get up and take a break. Nothing slows down the writing process faster than forcing yourself to sit at your desk and write until you’re bleary eyed and exhausted.

If an hour seems like too long, set a timer for twenty or thirty minutes. Experiment and find a length and goal that works for you.

 

#3 Outline First

5-outlineYou can make writing a speedier process by outlining the content first. You don’t have to get too detailed with your outline, unless you want to. What’s most important is to identify the key points you want to make in your piece. That generally includes your subtitles and bullet points.

An outline helps you stay focused on what you want to say. You may likely find that you don’t pause to determine what you want to say next because it’s already outlined. You can flow from one point to the next without stopping.

 

#4 Templates

If you tend to write similarly formatted content, consider creating templates. For example, a review article or blog post will likely have a recognizable structure. You can visit the reviews you’ve already written and published and use them to create a template for future reviews.

The same is true for how to articles, tips articles, and lists and so on. A template approach means you simply have to fill in the blanks and can really speed up the writing process.

 

#5 Eliminate Distractions

social media 2It’s tempting to sit down in front of the television at night and work on tomorrow’s blog post. However, it’ll take you five times longer to write that blog post than if you wrote it without distractions.

You see, contrary to what many people have been taught, multitasking really isn’t possible. Each time you pull your eyes away from the television to write, you have to shift focus. It may take an entire hour to write an article if you’re distracted. Sit down in a quiet place and it may take you a mere ten to fifteen minutes.

Distractions aren’t always on television. Consider the following and ask yourself if they’re distractions for you:

  • Email
  • Social media
  • Music
  • Phone
  • Family members
  • Chores

You may find that the longer you sit at the desk trying to write, the easier it is to be distracted. The next tip may be a perfect solution for you.

 

#6 Write When You Can Focus

6-focusAre you a night owl? A morning person? Chances are there is a time of day that you feel more focused and productive. And there’s a time of day when all you want to do is take a nap.

The ideal time to write is when you feel focused. That might be first thing in the morning if that’s when you’re most alert. Get to know your personal productivity patterns and schedule writing time when you’re more likely to be successful.

 

#7 Be Opportunistic

Are you having a creative day? Are you feeling inspired or motivated to write? Seize those moments and capitalize on them. Those are the days when content will flow freely and you’ll be able to write quickly.

Even if you don’t “need” to write, allow yourself the opportunity to get ahead on your content. Or create something extra. Additionally, if you find you have free time during your week, and you’re feeling productive, use it to create content. Be opportunistic.

 

#8 Write Now, Edit Later

7-opportunityDo you find yourself rewriting the same sentence several times because you’re trying to make it grammatically correct? Do you use spellcheck more often than the “enter” key on your keyboard? If this sounds like you then you may benefit from trying this tactic.

Write your entire piece of content without editing anything. Let all those red lines under misspelled words sit there without being corrected. Don’t run to your thesaurus or your Chicago Manual of Style. Just write.

Once the content is completed, then go ahead and start the editing process. Use your spellcheck. Fix awkward sentences and format the content the way you want to.

The reason this approach works is simple. Each time you halt the writing process and edit, you’re stopping the thought flow. When it’s time to return to the writing process and putting words on paper, you have to shift gears again. It may not seem like the shift in focus is significant, however it does slow you down.

Give it a try. You may be surprised by how quickly you are able to write content when you don’t stop to edit. In fact, you may need to experiment with several of these tactics to find the strategies that work best for you. For example, you may find that outlining your content actually slows down your writing process because you feel too restricted. Conversely, you may also find that working in batches cuts your writing time in half.

Because content often needs to help establish credibility and authority, it’s important to take a look at the content research process. This is where many people lose precious time.

10 Blogging Mistakes You Are Probably Making

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Blogging can be an incredibly rewarding way to make an online living. You get to build a community of people who listen to you and love what you say. You create a community of people who discuss your ideas. You make a lot of money. You get invited to speak at conferences. Your traffic goes up organically and you don’t have to spend anything on advertising.

That’s the dream, of course. Many bloggers live this dream today and more still will live this dream in the years to come. Unfortunately, not everyone makes it to the dream life.

Many bloggers get started – Then simply never reach the finish line. Some stop before they build a real follower base. Others build a follower base, then make a mistake and alienate their readers. Still others manage to reach a certain level of success, then hit a wall that they just can’t break through.

This happens mostly because bloggers make one of these ten mistakes. These ten mistakes are common blog-killing mistakes that bloggers all over the internet make. If you’re starting a blog (or already run a blog,) avoid these mistakes at all costs.

Mistake #1: Blogging Irregularly

calendarBlogging is all about building a loyal base of followers that want and expect to hear from you. Once you have a successful blog following going, you’ll literally have thousands of people who would get angry or worried if you don’t post on time.

In order to build that kind of supportive audience, you absolutely need to blog regularly. Regularly simply means you post on a set schedule that you don’t change. It could be once a week, it could be twice a month, it could be every single day.

Your audience needs to be able to rely on you to produce content. When you’re beginning your blog, start off with a manageable load like once a week. If you’re sure after a couple months that you can handle a higher workload, then go ahead and increase it. Don’t start off trying to blog every day, or you’ll most likely burn yourself out.

Regularity is more important than post frequency. Set a regular schedule and stuck to it.

Mistake #2: Writing for Search Engines

It’s not hard to spot a blog post written for search engines. Their keywords tend to be in the title tag or bolded in the subheads. The author bends his flow to fit the exact phrase of the keyword in the text. They might publish several similar articles with similar content because they wanted to target several similar keywords, each with its individual page.

The difference might seem subtle, but it actually makes a huge difference. Your readers can tell that you’re not flowing naturally when you write for search engines, even if your content is good.

The irony is that it’s the websites that consistently and regularly publish high quality content written for real human beings that actually end up ranking in the search engines. It might seem like optimizing your content for search engines is a wise idea, when in reality you’ll end up alienating both the search engines and human beings.

Write for people, not search engines.

Mistake #3: Not Carefully Analyzing Your Blog Analytics

analyzeYour analytics data can tell you a lot about your audience and about how to better run your blog. Yet many blog owners don’t look at their analytics at all, or only give it a cursory glance.

Here are some of the important things your analytics can tell you:

  • Where your traffic is coming from. Is it from search? Is it from referring sites? Is it something else entirely?
  • What keywords people type in to find your blog. They might be completely different than the keywords you were deliberately targeting.
  • Who’s linking to you and who’s sending you traffic. If someone went out of their way to link to you, there may be other opportunities for partnership there.
  • Your best posts and your worst posts. What kind of topics did people like and what did they not like? Which posts get people to stay the longest?

That’s just the tip of the iceberg. Your analytics data can give you all kinds of insights into how your audience operates and where you should take your blog next. Don’t make the mistake of overlooking this treasure trove of information.

Mistake #4: Not Having Reserve Posts

BlogpostIf you’re writing every blog post as you go, at some point that’s going to come back to haunt you. Life will get in the way. It could be a car accident. Or perhaps you get sick. Maybe something in your romantic life happens that throws things out of balance. Or perhaps an employee stole your money and you have to spend all week dealing with the fallout.

Whatever the case may be, there are going to be times when you just won’t have the time to write new content. It’s not a matter of “if” but “when.” If you don’t have backup posts for these times, then you’re going to be late on posts or miss posts completely.

Don’t let that happen. Have at least three, preferably five backup blog posts you can turn to whenever you need a quick break. Whenever you use one of these backups, make sure you replenish it within the next few weeks.

In addition to helping you in a pinch, knowing you have a backup plan can also help you relax around your blog upkeep.

Mistake #5: Doing Your Own Design or Using Templates

Doing your own design or using a pre-set template is perfectly fine for the first few months of your blog. If your blog is less than 6 months old, it absolutely makes sense to save the money and use a template.

But once you’re ready to take your blog to the professional level, that’s when you should scrap your old design and go straight to having a designer do a custom design for you.

Why is this important?

First, unless you’re a fantastic designer, chances are you just won’t be able to create a design that’s all that great. Even if you use templates, you’re still not going to have a design that truly reflects your core brand.

Having a great designer re-do your website isn’t cheap, but it’s not horribly expensive either. It makes a big different on how people perceive you and your website. If you’re blogging seriously and professionally while having a site that looks unprofessional, you may not keep your audience’s attention.

Mistake #6: Not Moderating Comments Quickly

commentsThere are a couple considerations that tie into this mistake.

First, not moderating comments at all is a mistake. If you let your comment stream get filled up with spam, people aren’t going to take the time to read the comments or to respond to them. Even with spam filters like Askimet, you should take the time to moderate comments by hand.

The second and more common mistake is taking too long to moderate comments. If you don’t get someone’s comment up and online within 12 hours, chances are they’re just going to lose interest. When someone responds to their comment, they’re not going to come back to participate. They also likely won’t comment on your content again in the future.

The answer is to moderate comments, but make sure you do so in an efficient and timely manner.

Mistake #7: Not Responding to Comments

If you want to cultivate a community of avid readers, you must respond to your comments. The type of person who takes the time to respond to your post in comment form is also the type of person who’ll share your content on social media or backlink to you from their own websites.

Furthermore, people respect bloggers who take the time to respond to comments. When someone scrolls down and sees that you actually answer your commenters, they feel like you actually care about them. They’re more likely to read and more likely to comment as well.

Get in the habit of responding to every single comment on your site. This is what builds audiences and followers.

Mistake #8: Ignoring Social Media

social_mediaHaving social-media-phobia is no longer an option for bloggers. Just a few years ago, it was possible to succeed using just blogging. Today, the internet is intimately tied to Twitter, Facebook and other social media tools.

In the past, backlinks were built through blogosphere relationships. Today, often time’s backlinks are built through social media relationships and tools.

Readers also expect to be able to relate to you through social media. They want to be able to easily share your posts or like your fan page. They want to be able to interact with you regularly through Twitter. If you’re not on social media, you’re missing out on links, traffic and reader connection.

Mistake #9: Not Using Multimedia

Just as the world is getting more social, the world is also getting more multi-media. If you’re only presenting your content in text media, you’re going to miss out on a lot of viral opportunities.

For example, creating an infographic is a fantastic way to take advantage of social bookmarking sites like Reddit, StumbleUpon or Digg.

Creating videos is also a great way to gain more traction. Videos can help you get more visitors through YouTube, as well as get more shares on Facebook.

Podcasting allows you to gain access to iTunes’ massive user base. Audio also allows you to get your content into the hands (and ears) of people who don’t have time to read blogs, but enjoy having an audiobook to learn from when they’re on the go.

Don’t just use text media. Use multiple kinds of media to really engage your user base.

Mistake #10: Not Building a Mailing List

email mkt1Head over to the site of any successful blog and you’ll almost invariably find an email signup box. Successful bloggers are meticulous about collecting email. It’s one of their secrets to success.

Having someone’s email allows you to get them to come back to your website over and over and over again. If you don’t collect their emails, the majority of your readers are just going to read your content once, then leave and never return.

Start building a list now, even if your site gets less than 100 visitors a month. It’s one of the fundamental building blocks of building a high traffic site.

These are the ten most common mistakes that bloggers make. Avoid these mistakes like the plague. If you post high quality content on a regular basis and don’t make any of these mistakes, there’s a good chance your blog could be the next leading resource in your industry.